What a wonderful week it’s been! This week allowed us all to get to know each other a little better as we worked together in teams and got to know each other less formally on whatsapp.
It was interesting to see the different approaches to collaboration. One team exchanged images with each other and each made adjustments to them in order to create abstract pieces. Another team created the most amazing video presentation with music and pre recorded presentations. Our group more simply decided on a topic and then we each went away separately to create our own interpreted work based on the theme. The fourth group operated in a simliar way to our own.
Watching the video one group created added to the pressure of seeing the past oral presentation videos. Seeing this polished presentations that quite possible require skills I haven’t yet learnt was a little awe inspiring. It gave me the sense that perhaps I need to up my game when thinking about the first assignment.
Collaborative Project & Webinar
This week’s focus is working on a collaboration with our peers. We have chosen a topic and in our group and we are now working through our own ideas and concepts in relation to parenthood with a general sense of wanting to show the darkness and light in parenthood.
I have so many ideas and concepts around motherhood, it’s something I’m drawn to over and over again in my work. Commercially I work as a baby photographer capturing those first years of a babies (and new mothers) lives.
Since my own daughter turned 1 I made the decision not to share publicly any images which identified her. It was a decision I made based on her own personality. She is naturally introverted and doesn’t like to be the centre of attention. She often overthinks and worries what others will think of her and I don’t want to add to that pressure and anxiety by having used her images for my own work throughout her childhood. I take many images of her but for now, they remain a private documentary. Not wanting to show her identity in my work requires a little creativity this week but I’m excited by some ideas that I’ve had. My experience as a mother has been a profound and life-changing one. The impact becoming a mother has had on my life and my own identity has been huge and I’m endlessly fascinated by the psychology and the societal expectations of mothering and motherhood.
I had two existing ideas that I thought would work well with this project:
In my first idea, I wanted to look at the “invisible labour of motherhood” as a concept. It’s something that has become increasingly relevant during the last 18 months of the pandemic. Many women have taken on a disproportionate amount of the additional invisible labour that arose from the lockdowns and school closures. I wanted to show how this invisible labour, although invisible to the outside world, is very much witnessed and imprinted on the minds of our children. It shapes and forms their own ideas and expectations of who they will (or will not) become. I find this a really poignant perspective because whilst I begrudgingly accept my fate in this pandemic, it’s only when I consider the impact on my daughter’s expectations of herself as a girl/woman that it makes me want to change what she sees.
I set up the camera at the height of my 5-year-old daughters eye-line and set about taking a series of images that documents the unseen labour that takes place in households across Britain every day. Using a tripod to ensure the frame stayed static I took multiple shots of me doing typical household chores, which I later composited in Photoshop removing myself from the frame. Making myself invisible. It hit home that as I made myself invisible my daughter was witnessing and internalising this as a way of being every day (obviously without yet realising that what she sees is neither “seen” or valued by society). I decided to call the series When I Grow Up as it is often something my daughter says as she watches me “When I grow up I want to be like you mummy”. Which for me brings home the responsibility I have in modelling to my daughter the kind of woman she can become.
My second idea was born out of the circumstances I found myself in at the start of the week when we were planning our project. We had just received an email stating that my daughter must isolate at home for 10 days following a child testing positive for covid-19 at her weekend club. My first thought was one of panic as I knew that she would now take up a significant part of my day and make a project a little more challenging to complete. I then considered the idea of recording the mundanities of motherhood. The reality of 24 hours in isolation.
These images document the time from when we took our lateral flow tests yesterday evening through our first full day of this isolation period. Much of the day was the usual mundane parts of everyday life mixed in with homeschooling, play, playing chase and general mess making. The space is no longer our own whilst she goes to school, she inhabits every inch of the house and our personal space. My only escape is the bathroom and loo but even there she forces notes and drawings under the door as I bathe. By the afternoon I feel much like the toppled chipmunk amongst the brightly coloured tiles. 9 more days to go….
Here is a version with the images converted to black and white. The converted versions feel a lot more edgy and moody and bring a very different feeling to the series.